Departure in Peace

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Title: Departure in Peace
Author(s): George Heap
Date(s): 1960
Length: 1700 words
Fandom: J.R.R. Tolkien
External Links: Departure in Peace on FellowsHub
Title page of "Departure in Peace"

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"Departure in Peace" is one of the first known Tolkien fanfiction works. The story was published in 1960 in the first issue of the fanzine I Palantir (which contained two Tolkien fanfics) and was written by George Heap. The story has a title illustration by the artist Simpson.


"Departure in Peace" is a first-person story told from the point of view of Sauron. The story gives a broad overview of the history of Tolkien's legendarium as Sauron might have told it. The story begins with the attempt of the Elves, called "Immortals" in the story, to turn mortals against Sauron. Sauron claims the Elves were contemptuous of mortals' youth and jealous of their growing power. The Elves repeatedly entice the mortals to war with each other and against Sauron in order to stem their growing power. Sauron creates the One Ring to aid him in defeating the mortals who have gone to war against him. He claims that he intentionally released the Ring into the world in order to sow dissension among his enemies. Ultimately, Sauron remembers the destruction of the Ring as a triumph because it drained his enemies, the Elves, of their power to maintain their strongholds, which were sustained and protected by their own Rings of Power.

Because The Silmarillion was not published yet, the story uses more obscure details from the Appendix of The Lord of the Rings, including names. The author invents a name (Incanus) for Gandalf. The details of the story are fairly consistent with what would later be published in The Silmarillion, although Sauron's power in the early ages of the world is exaggerated.

The style of the story is an overview of an alternate history. There is no dialogue, description, or much attempt at characterization. The story exhibits the author's knowledge of Tolkien's canon and his ability to use that canon to offer an alternative point of view. A heavy emphasis on knowledge and creative interpretation of Tolkien's canon remains a characteristic of Tolkien-based fanfiction through the present day. Additionally, stories that attempt to shed light on the perspective of villains or characters depicted negatively in the books continue to be popular. Sauron remains a favorite subject of such stories.